Guess The Most Evil Food At Chain Restaurants

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Chain Restaurant Advice

See those wings up there? They are packing some heat! (and I'm not talking about flavor)

psssst.....there is a gun under the plate. Yes, people, this plate of chicken wings is out to kill you.

How do I know that? A recent study in Public Health Nutrition has implicated appetizers in a nationwide conspiracy of added poundage (see here: What's on the menu? A review of the energy and nutritional content of US chain restaurant menus).

The researchers got a list of the top 400 chain restaurants including fast food venues and asked them to send over their nutritional facts on their menu items. You would think this would be an easy request but only 245 of the restaurants sent in their information.

Ahem. That means 155 restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen or The Cheesecake Factory decided NOT to cooperate and share the calorie information in their food. I find it astonishing after NYC and other places have forced chain restaurants to share this info. that restaurants are still not helping consumers out.

I want to know what is in my food because it helps me make informed decisions. A great example is the Bloomin' Onion from Outback Steakhouse. After I read "Eat This Not That", I found out that the onion is 1948 calories. I shared ONE of these with a friend. ooops.

The next time I went to Outback, I ordered the "Grilled Shrimp On The Barbie" which is tasty and is 294 calories total - and I shared it with a friend. Whoa! I just saved 900 calories because I had information. (No Barbie's were injured as a result of the shrimp dish.)

Okay, so with the information they did collect - the results clearly showed that APPETIZERS are the worst items on the menu. They have more fat, calories, and sodium than the other menu items.

You probably already knew that. Deep fried cheese, Buffalo Wings, Jalapeno poppers - these are not examples of healthy food choices. They DO taste good with beer which is why they are so salty. More beer, anyone?

The other big conclusion was the children's "specialty" drinks were higher in calories than regular menu items. I had noticed that my local Friendly's has started to serve a shake to my kids with lunch. They are already getting ice cream at the end of the meal, so I was wondering about this strange menu choice.

My daughter got a bad stomach ache after having both a shake and a small sundae (with a hamburger in between).

Next time you go to a chain restaurant, choose your appetizers carefully and avoid the children's specialty drinks.

How do you deal with the lack of information from chain restaurants?

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17 Comments:

Good Morning. Thanks for a write up on a topic I already knew. How do I cope with this? First, I do not visit restaurants who do not show nutrition information on their websites. Second, I select the leanest, healthiest dishes on the menu, eat half and take the other half home. Keep up the good work. I'll tweet and share.

on May 29, 2012

I love getting stats on nutrition from restaurants and comparing them to my homemade versions. It amazes me on how many calories are really in food! I don't get something so simple, can become so high in calories. I love the East This Not That books!! Thank you for sharing the information and I'm disgusted with the restaurants that won't share the calorie information.

on May 29, 2012

Hi,

Isnt it common knowledge that fried items usually contain more fat?

Love the site btw :-)

on May 29, 2012

I try not to eat at Chain Restaurants because they don't always use the freshest or highest quality ingredients. That being said, those that do, don't usually post their nutrition either. :( No matter what, I choose quality over quantity. (I dedicated a whole post on that, in fact.)

on May 29, 2012

I usually look online before I go. Most of the time the nutritional info is there. If not, I stick to grilled lean protein and always veg on the side. When I remember, I ask them not to put any butter/oil on the vegies.

on May 29, 2012

I do not eat out any longer. I have learned to recreate anything I loved with heathy, organic and Vegetarian foods.
I walked in to a fast food place and the smell actually made me sick. Eating healthy and making my own food is actually so rewarding. Anything can be oven fried and is delicious!!

on May 29, 2012

I never eat that kind of food.

on May 29, 2012

It's so rare that I eat out anymore that I don't put that much effort into decided what to eat before I get there. I usually decide based on what looks good and how hungry I am. I try to bring half of my entree home and I rarely order appetizers. It's more that I'm a cheapskate than worried about the nutrition content, but I am well aware of the fact that appetizers are usually high in fat and calories. I don't need to spoil my appetite and get heartburn to ruin the rest of my day.

on May 29, 2012

We don't eat out at this type of restaurant very often, but we almost never order an appetizer when we do. There's only two of us, we don't need that much food, and half the time it costs more than one of our meals! Instead, we make one of our sides a salad, as long as the price to do so isn't outrageous (yes, I am looking at YOU Outback Steakhouse, with your 2.50 charge for your ICEBERG LETTUCE).

Our favorite place though... it has free cheesy bread with dinner. Greasy, loaded with cheese. No idea how many calories are in it, but they give you a basket of four decent sized pieces... I eat ONE because I just know it's a calorie bomb.

on May 29, 2012

Once I learned that chicken wings were 3 points each on WW, they lost their appeal (and I think that is old points) - Although I think nachos will never lose their appeal for me! (even though so many appetizer nachos are not even good!)

on May 29, 2012

This is only one reason why I continue to gobble down sauteed chicken livers, brown rice, and steamed veggies!

on May 29, 2012

I was at PF Chang's a while back and looked up the calories for their food on my LOSE IT! App on my phone and found quite a bit on info that way and it helped me make a wise choice. I even asked the waitress if she knew what the calorie count was of some of the dishes she had no clue. She was shocked to hear the numbers as I rattled some of them off to her. I love all their food, so anything was fine with me. It's always too hard to pick one so that was a great way to help me out!

on May 29, 2012

I always try to look up the nutritional info before going out and if they don't have one, I try to peer-pressure my friends to go to another place with their menu online. If there's no way out, I try to opt for a garden salad with protein on the side or at least something like chicken with lots of vegetables.

on May 29, 2012

I was out with a friens a few years ago at a Ruby Tuesday and oedered the Veggie burger thinking I was making a healthy choice. My friend later told me that she was on the website and the Veggie Burger was full of fat and calories! That was the last time for me!
We also love the Eat This Not That books. We have a bunch of them. There is one for kids, one for the grocery store etc. Some of the things you learn are surprising!!

on May 29, 2012

I'm going to agree with some of the above posters -- I usually check before I go to the restaurant. I also order salads with the dressing on the side and opt. for simple grilled chicken or fish. I've also found that the kids menu items are better -- portion-wise.

on May 29, 2012

Thanks so much for this info. Sharing it. This message needs to be passed on.

on May 29, 2012

I don't go out to eat unless I intend on eating a grotesque amount of calories and fat. haha

on June 16, 2012


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